Bill That Was Supposed to Save Fair Now Might Take It Away

This week, Costa Mesa City Council members unveiled a draft copy of the legislation that will transform the Orange County Fairgrounds into a private-public sector partnership between Facilities Management West and the city’s newly formed joint-powers authority.

They expect the Legislature to soon begin moving on the bill, which goes by the name Assembly Bill 1790. In yet another ironic twist in the fair story, AB 1790 was originally submitted by Assemblyman Jose Solorio with the intent of keeping the fair in public hands.

But the draft circulated Tuesday night at the Costa Mesa City Council does exactly the opposite. It dissolves the 32nd Agricultural District — which retains the fair brand — and thus enables the transfer to FMW and the city joint-powers authority.

At least, that’s what last night’s draft bill said.

Now, however, as Solorio’s staff has been working with the city and FMW to develop the language, the assemblyman is apparently having second thoughts. Or at least thinking it through before he formally changes the bill in the Legislature, a spokesman for Solorio said.

Solorio now says he’s not sure what the final bill will look like, depending on his ongoing discussion with myriad factions involved in fighting and supporting the sale. He’s even been approached by the governor’s office to sponsor the bill.

But the crux is that there’s no bill right now that would accomplish what’s needed to actually sell the Orange County Fairgrounds. And according to a Solorio staffer, he hasn’t yet decided to pull the trigger and amend his original bill.